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February 28, 2014 1:17 pm

Ha’aretz Economy Editor: Anti-Israel Boycotts Are ‘Creature of the Media’s Imagination’

avatar by Joshua Levitt

The Israeli Haaretz newspaper.

In a recent Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, David Rosenberg, economics editor and a columnist for the Ha’aretz daily’s English-language edition, said today’s boycott of Israel “is nothing more than a creature of the media’s imagination.”

“The true story is that after nearly 10 years of campaigning, the global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement has not had the slightest economic impact,” Rosenberg said.

“Its victories have consisted of coaxing a handful of pop stars and academics to cancel appearances in Israel, and winning empty, sanctimonious declarations of support from the likes of student governments, cooperative grocery stores and leftish church groups.”

Despite the boycott cries, Israel’s exports continue to grow and the country is attracting tremendous foreign investment, he said.

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“In the weeks that Israel was supposedly under a boycott siege, Japan’s Rakuten agreed to buy the start-up Viber for $900 million and Ireland’s Covidien sealed a deal to buy Given Imaging for $860 million,” Rosenberg said.

“China’s Bright Food was in talks to buy control of Israel’s biggest food maker Tnuva, and IBM, Lockheed-Martin and ERM all announced plans to open research and development centers in Israel. The Jewish state became the first non-European member of the nuclear research consortium CERN and was admitted as an observer to the Pacific Alliance, a free-trade bloc of five Latin American countries.”

In the Op-Ed, Rosenberg explained that much of the recent noise from BDS supporters comes from extrapolating “anti-Israel” positions from more mundane decisions taken by European firms, which, while accused of boycotting Israel were rather just adjusting portfolios or if they limited their interaction with Israel on one front, were still active on another.

The excitement, though, causes further excitement, and, for Israel, which endured real boycotts in the 1970s, the specter of that return is what leads media to focus on, and hype, its resurgence, he said.

“For the Western media, the boycott and all the ideological baggage it carries makes it irresistible,” Rosenberg said. “Even in Israel, the boycott is just too compelling a story for the facts to get in the way.”

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